I must admit, during the past months I have felt like I have been failing instead of growing. Like I have given up on all that is important, everything I strived so hard for, everything I worked so hard for during the last four years only to return to the same spot where I left years ago.
Lately I have been thinking a lot about helping others, and what really constitutes as help.
In her lovely book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert states that the primary reason for anybody to write/create anything should not be ‘helping others.’ But it often seeps in, doesn’t it. We are bombarded with all kinds of blogging schools and Pinterest courses to get our message out there, to teach others, to be the source of knowledge, the expert others look up to, to find our niche, to drill down on the unique selling point and then gain followers.
Dude, I just wanna write.
And when I write, I just want to express myself, to allow what is in me to surface and who ever wants to see it, fine. If someone gets something out of it, great, but that will never be the point. So how can I figure out a niche for my writing, it is what it is…
Well, I adore Elizabeth Gilbert for many reasons, one of them is the legendary book Eat Pray Love (no, not the movie, I fell a sleep), which sometimes gets bad rep especially in Bali, but say what you want, it helped me a lot during my pre-divorce fog. And recently Big Magic gave me another reason to adore her. She freed me from thinking that I should HELP someone with my writing. In the funny interview on Marie Forleo (another woman I adore), Elizabeth mentions how you know the people who are trying to help you by the confused look on the faces of those being helped (*chuckle*). When she was writing Eat Pray Love, the last thing she thought about was helping people with it. As she says, she was “a hot mess” herself just trying to find grace and make sense of the world.
When I listen to Adele I get it. She is not trying to help anyone with her art, she is just purely and simply singing about her own heartbreak. Coincidentally that raw honesty speaks to millions of people, and she has gained a steady following. All what is needed is raw honesty to our own craft.
So there goes that. I don’t have to help anyone with writing, I just have to write! How liberating, how honest, and how messed up that I ever thought otherwise!
Followers and an audience
Then there is the business side of things, which mixes into everything and anything, and the ever-growing and confusing world of social media. I have worked a lot with yoga teachers, and there seems to be a trend ongoing with hiring them, which is determined by how many people are following them. Do we all need followers in our lives, and what does that really even mean? What it comes down to is that if I don’t have followers, I don’t exist. But what if I don’t want to have followers, what if I don’t want to lead a tribe, I don’t want to be the expert in some field or the thought leader of my industry.
Dude, I just want to write.
Of course life as a creative person is easier when you have an audience and your work is actually received by someone out there, but should it be the main point, or the starting point? I don’t want to first look at the world and based on a gap in the market try to fill it with my creations. Dr. Wayne Dyer talks about it a lot as well, how we should just examine what lights us up and follow that. Letting go of the end result and just serving the world with your passion and your talent. Never mind if someone read it or pays for it. Create what comes, follow the river and most likely when done with this energy, everything else will fall into place perfectly.
Help yourself first. Light yourself up first. Get inspired first, and the rest will come.
I see my reflection on the skytrain window, against the dark Bangkok night. I appear older than I feel, and I wonder if 10 years is really so terribly much? I am thankful of the years I spent alone, between all the seriousness and settlement. Of the years when my wardrobe was filled with dresses and skirts shining in disco lights. When the I shoes I loved wearing the most were my disco boots, my lucky boots.